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John Madden

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John Madden
John Madden
Madden in 2007
No. 77
Position:Offensive tackle
Personal information
Born:(1936-04-10)April 10, 1936
Austin, Minnesota
Died:December 28, 2021(2021-12-28) (aged 85)
Pleasanton, California
Career information
High school:Jefferson
(Daly City, California)
College:Cal Poly
NFL Draft:1958 / Round: 21 / Pick: 244
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:103–32–7 (.750)
Postseason:9–7 (.563)
Career:112–39–7 (.731)
Coaching stats at PFR

John Earl Madden (April 10, 1936 – December 28, 2021) was an American football coach and sports commentator in the National Football League (NFL). He served as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1969 to 1978, whom he led to eight playoff appearances, seven division titles, seven AFL / AFC Championship Game appearances, and the franchise's first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XI. Never having a losing season, Madden holds the highest winning percentage among NFL head coaches who coached 100 games.

After retiring from coaching, Madden was a color commentator for NFL telecasts from 1979 to 2009, which earned him 16 Sports Emmy Awards. Madden appeared on all four major American television networks, providing commentary for games broadcast by CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. He also lent his name, expertise, and commentary to the Madden NFL video game series (1988–present), which became the best-selling football video game franchise of all time. Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Early life

John Madden was born in Austin, Minnesota, to Earl Russell Madden and Mary (née Flaherty) Madden.[1][2] His father, an auto mechanic, moved the Madden family to Daly City, California, located south of San Francisco, when John was young.[3] John attended Catholic parochial school with John Robinson[4] at Our Lady of Perpetual Help,[5] graduating in 1950,[6] and then Jefferson High School, graduating in 1954.[7][8][9][10]

Playing career

A football star in high school, Madden played one season at the College of San Mateo,[11] in 1954,[12] before he was given a football scholarship to the University of Oregon,[12][13][14] studying pre-law, and playing football with boyhood friend John Robinson.[15] He was redshirted because of a knee injury and had a knee operation. Then he attended the College of San Mateo[16] in 1955,[12][17] then Grays Harbor College playing in the fall of 1956,[18] before transferring to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he played both offense and defense for the Mustangs in 1957[19][20] while earning a Bachelor of Science in education in 1959 and a Master of Arts in education in 1961.[21][22] He won all-conference honors[23] at offensive tackle, and was a catcher on Cal Poly's baseball team.[12]

Madden was drafted in the 21st round (244th overall) by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, but suffered an injury on his other knee in his first training camp,[24] ending his playing career without having had an opportunity to play professionally.[19][13]

Coaching career

College coaching

Madden recounted how he became involved with coaching:

I got hurt in my rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles – a knee injury – and I couldn't play. While I was rehabbing, Norm Van Brocklin would be watching films and would explain what was happening. I ended up with a degree in teaching and my love for football meshed with teaching.[25]

In 1960, he became an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and was promoted to head coach in 1962. Following the 1963 season, he was hired as a defensive assistant coach at San Diego State, where he served through 1966. During that final campaign, the 1966 Aztecs were ranked among the top small colleges in the country.[19] While at San Diego State, Madden coached under Don Coryell, whom Madden credited as being an influence on his coaching.[26]

Professional coaching with the Oakland Raiders

Building on that success, Madden was hired by Al Davis as linebackers coach for the AFL's Oakland Raiders in 1967,[27] putting him in the Sid Gillman coaching tree.[28] He helped the team reach Super Bowl II that season. A year later, after Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to take the same position with the Buffalo Bills,[29] Madden was named the Raiders' head coach on February 4, 1969, becoming, at the age of 32, professional football's youngest head coach to that time.[30]

Madden's first Raiders squad went 12–1–1 in 1969 but lost 17–7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the last-ever American Football League Championship Game.[31] This would become a frustrating trend during Madden's coaching career. Oakland won seven AFC West division championships and always played to a winning record during his ten seasons as head coach, but they also lost in seven AFL/AFC Championship Games.[32] One of the most frustrating playoff defeats came in 1972, when what appeared to be a last-minute AFC championship victory over the Steelers instead became a part of football lore when Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" gave Pittsburgh a 13–7 win.[33] In 1974, after knocking the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins out of the playoffs in dramatic fashion, the Raiders again lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game.[34] The Steelers would once more end the Raiders' season one game short of the Super Bowl in the 1975 AFC Championship game.[35]

In 1976, the Raiders went 13–1 in the regular season and escaped the first round of the playoffs with a dramatic and controversial 24–21 victory over the New England Patriots. In their third straight battle with the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, Madden's Raiders finally defeated their nemesis 24-7 to reach Super Bowl XI. On January 9, 1977, Madden won his first and only NFL title with a 32–14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.[36]

The Raiders again won the AFC West in 1977 but again lost the AFC Championship Game, this time to the Denver Broncos.[37] The Raiders enjoyed their tenth straight winning campaign under Madden in 1978 but failed to qualify for the playoffs for just the second time in his tenure.[38] Soon after their season ended, Madden announced his retirement on January 4, 1979 due to a troublesome ulcer and occupational burnout, stating that he was permanently ending his coaching career.[39]

Among Madden's accomplishments as a head coach were winning a Super Bowl, and becoming the youngest coach to reach 100 career regular-season victories, a record he compiled in only ten full seasons of coaching at the age of 42.[40] Madden is still the coach with the most wins in Raiders history.[41]

Madden never had a losing season as a head coach. His overall winning percentage, including playoff games, ranks second in league history behind Guy Chamberlain and is the highest among those who coached 100 games.[42] Madden achieved his record during a period that included head coaches Tom Landry, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, and Bud Grant, who are generally regarded as the top coaches of that era.[43]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
OAK 1969 12 1 1 .893 1st in AFL Western 1 1 .500 Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFL Championship
OAK 1970 8 4 2 .643 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Baltimore Colts in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1971 8 4 2 .643 2nd in AFC West
OAK 1972 10 3 1 .750 1st in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Divisional Round
OAK 1973 9 4 1 .679 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Miami Dolphins in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1974 12 2 0 .857 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1975 11 3 0 .786 1st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1976 13 1 0 .929 1st in AFC West 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XI champions
OAK 1977 11 3 0 .786 2nd in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1978 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC West
Total 103 32 7 .750 9 7 .563
Source: [44]

Sportscasting career


CBS Sports (1979–1993)

Madden joined CBS as a color commentator in 1979. After working lower-profile contests during his first years, he was elevated to the network's top football broadcasting duo with Pat Summerall in 1981, replacing Tom Brookshier. Prior to teaming with Summerall on CBS, Madden was paired with a variety of announcers, such as Vin Scully, Dick Stockton, Frank Glieber, and Gary Bender.[45] The team of Madden and Summerall would go on to call eight Super Bowls together.[46] On occasions in which Summerall was unavailable (during the CBS years, Summerall was normally scheduled to commentate on the U.S. Open tennis tournament during the early weeks of the NFL season), Madden would team with the likes of Vin Scully[47] and subsequently, Verne Lundquist. On their final CBS telecast together (the 1993 NFC Championship Game on January 23, 1994), Madden told Summerall that while CBS may no longer have the NFL,[a] at least they have the memories. On ABC's final Monday Night Football telecast in 2005, Madden used a similar choice of words.[48]

Fox Sports (1994–2001)

When the Fox Network gained the rights to NFC games in 1994, CBS employees became free agents. Madden was the biggest star in football broadcasting, and Fox, ABC, and NBC made offers higher than the $2 million a year maximum for sportscaster salaries; NBC's owner General Electric offered to make Madden its "worldwide spokesman", and GE Rail would build for him a luxury train. After he almost joined ABC,[49] Madden and Summerall joined Fox's NFL coverage,[50] giving the network credibility to broadcast what Rupert Murdoch called "the crown jewel of all sports programming in the world". Madden's contract paid him more annually than any NFL player.[49] However, Fox was reportedly losing an estimated $4.4 billion on its NFL contract for the eight-year deal it signed in 1998, and it had been trying to cut programming costs as a result. Madden's Fox contract would have been worth $8 million for 2003.[51]

ABC Sports (2002–2005)

In 2002, Madden became a commentator on ABC's Monday Night Football, working with longtime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. Madden reportedly made $5 million per year.[51]

NBC Sports (2006–2008)

In 2005, Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, announced that Madden would provide color commentary for NBC's Sunday night NFL games, beginning with the 2006 season, making him the first sportscaster to have worked for all of the "Big Four" U.S. broadcast television networks.[52] On October 13, 2008, NBC announced that Madden would not be traveling to the October 19 Sunday Night Football Seattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers game in Tampa, Florida, marking the end of Madden's 476-weekend streak of consecutive broadcast appearances. Madden, who traveled by bus, decided to take the week off because he had traveled from Jacksonville to San Diego, and would have had to go back to Florida before returning to his Northern California home. Madden was replaced by Football Night in America studio analyst Cris Collinsworth for the game,[53] and returned for the following telecast on November 2, 2008, in Indianapolis (until 2010 the NFL did not schedule Sunday night games for one week in October, so as not to overlap with the World Series taking place roughly around the same time). Madden called his final game on February 1, 2009, for Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Madden announced his official retirement from the broadcasting booth on April 16, 2009.[54] He was succeeded by Collinsworth.[50]


Madden got his start in broadcasting calling in to longtime San Francisco radio personality "The Emperor" Gene Nelson's show on station KYA in the 1970s while coach of the Raiders. He followed Nelson when he moved to station KSFO, and the call-ins continued even after Madden's coaching retirement. Madden later made appearances on KNBR.[55] In 1997, he began calling in to radio station KCBS five days a week at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time. This continued through Thanksgiving 2015, when he ceased calling after heart surgery and other health concerns. He began making twice-weekly appearances on KCBS radio again in 2017, appearing Mondays and Fridays at 9:15 a.m. He stopped making regular radio call-ins in August 2018, citing a desire to remove any obligations from his schedule. KCBS named him "Senior Investigative At-Large Correspondent", indicating that he may occasionally call in again.[56] Madden also aired sports commentaries in syndication on the Westwood One radio network in the United States.[57]


Madden's lively and flamboyant delivery won him critical acclaim and fourteen Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Event Analyst. His announcing style was punctuated with interjections such as "Boom!", "Whap!", "Bang!", and "Doink!"' and with his use of the telestrator, a device which allowed him to superimpose his light-penned diagrams of football plays over video footage. Madden's use of the telestrator helped to popularize the technology, which has become a staple of television coverage of all sports.[58]

Madden was also known for working the annual Thanksgiving Day games for CBS and later Fox. He would award a turkey or turducken to the winning team. He would also award a turkey drumstick to players of the winning team following the Thanksgiving Day game, often bringing out a "nuclear turkey" with as many as eight drumsticks on it for the occasion. The drumsticks served as an odd take on the "player of the game" award. Madden stopped announcing the Thanksgiving Day games after he moved to ABC in 2002, but the tradition continued. Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network present the Galloping Gobbler to the game's "Most Valuable" player.[59]

All-Madden team

Of all those players, I think Jack Youngblood...personified the All-Madden team spirit...

—John Madden[60]

In 1984, Madden took the advice of NFL coach John Robinson—a friend of Madden since elementary school—and created the "All-Madden" team, a group of players who Madden thought represented football and played the game the way he thought it should be played.[61] Madden continued to pick the All-Madden team through the 2001 season when he left to move to ABC and Monday Night Football. Madden added his "Haul of Fame" for his favorite players,[62] he created a special 10th Anniversary All-Madden team in 1994, an All-Madden Super Bowl Team in 1997, and an All-Time All-Madden team in 2000. All Madden was also the title of Madden's third best-selling book (after Hey, Wait A Minute? I Wrote a Book and One Knee Equals Two Feet).[63]

In All Madden, Madden explained:

What does it mean to be 'All-Madden'? It's a whole range of things. For defensive linemen and linebackers, it's about Jack Youngblood playing with a busted leg, Lawrence Taylor wreaking havoc on the offense and Reggie White making the other guy wish he put a little more in the collection plate at church. It's about a guy who's got a dirty uniform, mud on his face and grass in the ear hole of his helmet.[64]

Other media


Madden was featured in the movie Little Giants.[65] He also played himself as the broadcaster of the fictional games in the film The Replacements alongside his broadcast partner at the time Pat Summerall.[66]

On December 25, 2021, the Fox network presented All Madden, a documentary highlighting Madden's rise to stardom as a NFL coach and broadcaster. Former and current NFL players appear in the film, which premiered prior to a Christmas Day contest on Fox between the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers in Green Bay.[67]

Advertising and cameos

Madden appeared in a variety of radio and television commercials including Ace Hardware, Outback Steakhouse (the corporate sponsor of the Madden Cruiser),[68] Verizon Wireless, Rent-A-Center, Miller Lite, Toyota, Sirius Satellite Radio, and "Tough Actin" Tinactin.[69][54][49] In particular, the Miller beer advertisements cemented Madden's image in the public eye as a bumbling but lovable personality.[70]

Madden appeared in a 1999 episode of The Simpsons, "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday".[71] Madden also hosted an episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1982 with musical guest Jennifer Holliday.[72] As well, Madden was featured in the Irish band U2's music video for the song "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of".[73] He made a similar appearance in the video for Paul Simon's 1972 single "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard",[74] in which he attempts to teach football fundamentals to a group of kids playing a pickup game.[75]

To minimize travel to studios, Madden built Goal Line Productions in Pleasanton, California.[76]

John Madden Football/Madden NFL video games

From 1988 on, Madden lent his name, voice and creative input to the John Madden Football series of football video games, later called Madden NFL, published by EA Sports/Electronic Arts. Entries in the series have consistently been best-sellers, to the extent that they have even spawned TV shows featuring competition between players of the games. Despite Madden's retirement as a broadcaster in 2009, he still continued to lend his name and provide creative input to the series,[77] which were so popular that he became better known as the face of Madden to contemporary football fans than as a Super Bowl-winning coach and broadcaster, up until his death in 2021.[78]

Madden viewed the game as an educational tool. During initial planning conversations with Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins in 1984, Madden envisioned the program as a tool for teaching and testing plays.[78][79] He stated in 2012 that Madden NFL was "a way for people to learn the game [of football] and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level".[80]

Awards and honors

Madden's bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame



Halls of Fame

Personal life

Madden met his wife, Virginia Fields, in a bar in Pismo Beach, California,[24] marrying on December 26, 1959. They lived in Pleasanton, California, and had two sons, Joseph and Michael. Joe played football at Brown University and Mike attended Harvard University, where he started as receiver on the football team.[89]

Madden and Virginia celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary two days before his death.[90]

Aversion to flying

Madden's aversion to flying was well known, although his fear was not realized until many years into his adult life. He had lost people close to him in the October 29, 1960, California Polytechnic State University football team plane crash that claimed the lives of 16 players, the team's student manager, and a football booster. However, it was not until 1979 that he had his first panic attack on a flight originating in Tampa, Florida; he never flew on a plane again. [91] Madden, however, stated once in an interview that his fears were not about turbulence, flying, or heights, but primarily claustrophobia.[92]

During his Saturday Night Live hosting appearance in the early 1980s, a short film aired depicting Madden making the journey to New York City to host SNL by train. In the mid-1980s, Madden was a frequent rider on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited;[93] Amtrak let the famous customer use the dining car at any time.[94] However, beginning in 1987, Greyhound Lines supplied Madden with a custom bus and drivers in exchange for advertising and speaking events, dubbed the Madden Cruiser.[95] The Madden Cruiser shells are manufactured by Motor Coach Industries. The coach-bus sponsors over the years have included Walker Advantage Muffler and Outback Steakhouse.[68]

Madden never did commentary for the Pro Bowl, which was held in Honolulu during every year of his broadcasting career. Likewise, Madden never called any preseason game held outside of North America, even when his play-by-play partner was on the telecast. Madden found an unexpected use for his bus in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when he provided transportation for former ice-skating champion Peggy Fleming, whose flight home to Los Gatos, California, had been grounded.[96] In contrast to Madden's aversion to flying, his widow Virginia took flying lessons.[97]


Madden died of unidentified causes at his home in Pleasanton, California, on December 28, 2021, at the age of 85.[1] In a press release announcing Madden's death, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Madden "was football", adding, "there will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today."[98]

See also


  1. ^ CBS would eventually regain NFL rights in 1998 by outbidding NBC for the rights to AFC telecasts


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  91. ^ "My Personal Memories of John Madden". MSN.
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Sporting positions
Preceded by NFL on CBS lead game analyst
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NFL on Fox lead game analyst
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Preceded by Monday Night Football game analyst
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NBC Sunday Night Football game analyst
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Preceded by NFL on NBC lead game analyst
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